Photo by JON M. FLETCHER / The Times-Union -Don Barton, who made “Zaat” in the early 1970s, kept the original creature costume in his garage. 2009 file photo.
Upon the death of Don Barton, the June 10, 2013 edition of Florida Times-Union (and Jacksonville.com),featured an article by Matt Soergel, who wrote “Don Barton brought “Zaat” to life in the early 1970s, and while the movie about a giant radioactive walking catfish-human monster was quiet for decades, it never really went away . . . The 1971 creature-feature played for a while at drive-ins and movie houses, mostly in the Southeast. It was bootlegged and retitled several times, and Barton learned hard lessons about the cutthroat movie business. It had a renaissance, though, after being mocked in 1999 on TV’s “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” which featured science-fiction movies generally thought of as bad. By June 2001, “Zaat” made it to theaters again, playing to two packed auditoriums at the now-gone St. Johns 8 Theater on the Westside . . . Mr. Barton was a co-founder of the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association and won several awards for documentaries. In 1984, he became vice president of marketing at what’s now St. Vincent’s HealthCare, and later served on the hospital’s executive board.” Read entire article
I have just learned that the estate sale for the late Mr. Barton will be held on Friday and Saturday, November 1st and 2nd. Some memorabilia from the movie will be available. Don V
Jamie Defrates in the movie ZAAT (1971)
When I first saw Don Bartin’s low-budget horror movie, ZAAT (1971) I was surprised to discover that Jamie DeFrates makes an appearance! DeFrates is an accomplished musician/composer/producer, who lived in Jacksonville, FL at the time. DeFrates was born in Springfield, Illinois. His parents ran a Christian ministry that included a radio show called “The Golden Gospel Hour.” After college he traveled the country, playing guitar and singing in clubs from New York to San Francisco. DeFrates has been a national opening act for: Willie Nelson, Janis Ian, Leo Kottke, Little River Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, Richie Havens, Doc Watson, John Hartford, John Lee Hooker, and others. He eventually settled in Jacksonville, where he established a publishing company and recording studio. The music in ZAAT is credited to Jamie DeFrates and John Orsulak.
I’ve noticed some interesting parallels between ZAAT and another B-movie called Beware the Blob (1972), also knows as Son of the Blob, which was directed by none other than Larry Hagmen, between his stints in I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas. Read on…
ZAAT movie cedits
While ZAAT featured a small role for Jamie DeFrates, whose upbringing was steeped in Gospel, Beware the Blob featured appearances by Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill, two of the pioneers of the “Christian Rock” genre, now called “Contempory Christian.” You might think the makers of ZAAT got the idea to include Jamie DeFrates from Beware the Blob, but Hagman’s movie was released in 1972, ZAAT in 1971! Just below the credits for DeFrates and Hodgin, we see “Electronic Music: Jack Tamul,” another interesting Jacksonville musician who specializes in synthesized music.
Randy Stonehill (right) in Beware the Blob
Larry Norman (left) in Beware the Blob
The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set
Ed Tucker is an aficionado of classic and vintage science fiction & horror films and memorabilia. He wrote the liner notes for the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD. The official ZAAT website features an excerpt from an interview with Ed Tucker that first appeared in the April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters Magazine. Tucker begins:
I suppose being born in Ocala, Florida in the 1960’s in some way predestined me to my love and appreciation of motion pictures. The small town of Silver Springs is located so close to Ocala that, today, it is almost considered a suburb of it, but in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a booming conglomeration of widely varied tourist attractions. Chief among these was Silver Springs itself, with its glass bottom boats, jungle cruises, and wildlife exhibitions. Hollywood often utilized the spring’s clear waters and jungle-like settings for every manner of production. From installments in the Tarzan film series to episodes of Sea Hunt and I Spy. But in my mind it will always be remembered for the underwater footage filmed for the 1957 3-D horror icon, Creature from the Black Lagoon.
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